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Hiding the Decline Paperback – November 5, 2012
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About the Author
Andrew Montford is one of the UK's best-known global warming sceptics and the author of The Hockey Stick Illusion, the best-selling story of climatology's greatest scandal. He appears regularly on TV and radio as the UK's voice of rational opposition to global warming alarmism.
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Top customer reviews
Now Montford is back looking into the equally infamous episode known as hiding the decline. Tree ring growth had been used to estimate temperatures in the past millenium, but beginning about 1960 they were not behaving--they showed temperatures were cooling whereas thermometers showed they were rising. So the scientists cut off their badly behaving tree ring curve and overlaid it after about 1960 with the measured temperatures. Never mind that if they were misbehaving now what might they have been doing back in the time when there were no thermometers. This would have destroyed decades of work so couldn't be allowed to stand. Montford delves deeply into the story and once again shows the ability to make a fascinating detective story out of this shocking example of scientific fraud.
This is not to say that this book does not have merit. It is an important public document capturing well Climategate in its entirety. It also informs about a few other shenanigans that climatologists did to manufacture temperature replications. Focusing on related technical data issues, this book reinforces some insights and offers a few new ones.
The first confirmed insight is that tree ring temperature proxies are unreliable. Tree rings widths differ for numerous reasons besides temperature. Invariably, many tree ring temperature proxies will completely diverge from actual temperature records. This is the main subject of the book: Keith Briffa's tree ring generated temperature proxies that show a declining temperature trend post 1960. This is just the opposite vs the two famous hockey stick patterns generated by Michael Mann and Phil Jones respectively. The related graph is on the cover of the book and Figure 4.2 on page 87. Jones did the "Hiding the Decline" bit by either truncating Riffa's series to 1960, or fusing it post 1960 with actual temperature records. Those various subterfuges are graphed on pg 88, 89, 173, 174. This allowed Mann, Jones, and Riffa to present to subsequent IPCC assessments that the Hockey Stick temperature record pattern had been independently reconstructed by all three of them. What kind of independence is that?
Another insight is that actual temperature records are not as accurate as "actual" entails. Records from China are of terrible quality. Doug Keenan uncovered that out of 84 Chinese meteorological stations series 49 have no history and another 35 had been relocated or were deemed inconsistent. Only 7 or less than 10% of them have adequate consistent temperature history data. Yet, Phil Jones will use the entire Chinese data when building his worldwide temperature records (pg 49, 50). A junior researcher, Ian Harris, in charge of compiling data confirms unreliable time series is a common problem for other regions. He mentions that data from Australia is nearly as bad as China's (pg. 165). He then states "shouldn't usually plot past 1960 because these will be artificially adjusted to look closer to the real temperatures." That statement is an email from Climategate disclosed on pg. 166.
There is another reason why temperature records are inaccurate: the well known urban island effect whereby temperature rises as urban density increases. Phil Jones is the climatologist that first uncovered this effect in the 90s. But, ultimately he will disregard it to preserve the upward trend of the hockey stick.
Climatologists data fabrications have a predictable pattern. Old temperature proxies are manipulated so that temperatures in the past centuries are deemed low and newer ones are deemed high. This is to flatten the Warm Medieval Period and create the hockey stick pattern. Montford extensively covered that in "The Hockey Stick Illusion" by showing that Michael Mann's short-centring Principal Component Analysis method was flawed and created hockey stick patterns out of random data (Steve McIntyre's work). Other fabrications related to the mentioned "actual" temperature records over the past 150 years that are tweaked to confirm the abrupt rise in temperature in recent times.
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